Early February saw the class of 2020 graduate in a hybrid “Grand Graduation”, where technical difficulties, long lines and extensive waiting times left many graduating students disappointed.
The university’s Grand Graduation event was open to anyone who graduated in 2020. The event was held in Llewelyn hall and was live streamed. Receptions occurred in five capital cities across Australia, as well as Shanghai and Beijing. As it was strictly a celebratory event, graduates did not have an opportunity to walk across the stage to receive their degrees. Instead, those who graduated had their degrees conferred in absentia. The decision to hold this event instead of the usual college-specific physical graduation ceremony was a response to ongoing COVID-19 public health restrictions.
The shortcomings of this new medium were apparent, however. Some graduates complained of an unorganised regalia hire and photos structure, resulting in long lines for photos and causing many graduates and families to miss out. Issues with live streaming to Beijing and Shanghai led to the stream repeatedly cutting off due to lags and time delays. The following reception event did not allow graduates to choose to be with friends, and groups were sectioned off in Llewellyn Hall. Finally, because of Covid-19 health restrictions, graduates could not bring their family to either the main event or reception. The culmination of these factors caused feelings of dissatisfaction among many graduates.
Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt stated in late December of last year that “for those wishing to walk across the stage, you’ll be able to register for a live ceremony once COVID restrictions have lifted and we can hold them in person again”. However, for many of the class of 2020 who have now moved interstate or overseas, the opportunity to walk across the stage may have now passed.